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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

Category Archives: External / non-HDCA event/news

Capability and Pragmatism: Between Social Sciences and Social Philosophy (Berlin, Germany)

21 - 22 April 2016

This international workshop is jointly organized by the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the French Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS-Paris), and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). It aims to bring together scholars from philosophy and the social sciences to explore the theoretical and the empirical potential of capability studies today. Three main research themes will be explored during the two-day workshop: the relevance of the capability approach for deliberative democracy, human rights, and self-government; the social relevance of capabilities and their social embeddedness; and the economic dimension of capabilities, addressing vulnerability and empowerment. All these dimensions will be explored having in view the overall theme of the possible interactions, overlaps, and influences between the capability approach and the pragmatist tradition.

Download the schedule here. For more information:

TERI University – BLISS School 2016 on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns

18-22, April 2016

Registration begins: 27, January 2016
Last date for registration: 11, April 2016

BLISS (Building Learning in Sustainability Science) is a series of five-day events organized by the TERI University to train and prepare stakeholders for the forthcoming sustainable development challenges by initiating dialogue and disseminating knowledge and skills on critical issues such as environmental protection, ecological security, resource efficiency especially in a rapidly developing country like India. The overarching aim is to generate awareness and champion the cause of sustainability and sustainable development, both nationally and at the global level.

In this series, BLISS School 2016 will focus on interdisciplinary learning on the theme of ‘Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns’. The content of the sessions over five days will be covered under the following sub–themes:

  • Introduction to Sustainable Consumption and Production: Global and Regional Context, Fundamental Concepts, Challenges, and Opportunities
  • Internalizing SCP in Value Chains: Supply Chain Management, Life Cycle Thinking, SCP in the Private Sector, Corporate Social Responsibility, Influencing Consumer Choice
  • Towards Resource Efficient Urban Habitats: Planning and Management for Infrastructure, Energy, and Waste
  • Innovation and Technology for SCP: Cleaner and Safer Production, Sustainable Food Systems, Tourism, Lifestyles and Education
  • Mainstreaming SCP through Stakeholder Engagement and Policy–making

The sessions will also present case studies on leading SCP practices as well as showcase innovative policies promoting SCP both at the regional and national level.


Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) is an integral component of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the main focus of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-12. For over a decade, countries have viewed SCP as a pre-requisite for achieving the objective of sustainable development also highlighted in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002. The European Union (EU), recognizing the need to promote SCP practices and thereby achieve sustainable economic development, resource efficiency, and poverty reduction, has made SCP a prime focus in its regional cooperation strategy for Asia. Given this backdrop, the TERI University in New Delhi, dedicated to providing education for sustainable development, has signed an agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) under the EU–funded SWITCH–Asia Programme to support learning on SCP among different stakeholders, especially policymakers and students, as well as consumers, businesses, and supporting organizations in South Asia.To meet this objective, a five-day School on Sustainable Consumption and Production is being organized at the TERI University from April 18-22, 2016.

For queries, email us at or call 011-71800222.

Call for Papers – 6th Meeting of ALCADECA (Latin American and the Caribbean Association for the Study of Human Capabilities)

Montevideo, Uruguay

May 30 – June 1, 2016

Hosted by Universidad de la República (Uruguay)

Submissions due March 10

The organizers of the 2016 Conference of ALCADECA  are  pleased to announce the call for papers for its 6th  biennial meeting, to be held in Montevideo, Uruguay, on June 1-3, 2016. These meetings bring together researchers from different disciplines and fields interested in human development, the capabilities approach and other approaches to normative and development issues, with particular focus in Latin America.  Previous conferences have taken place in Mexico (2006), Montevideo (2008), Porto Alegre (2010), Buenos Aires (2012) and Lima (2014).

The rapid economic growth recently experienced in most Latin American countries has generated a significant increase in household income that has not necessarily been translated into proportionate achievements in terms of human development and freedoms. Social interactions can promote different life styles and, specifically, consumption patterns, that might strengthen or erode functionings and capabilities, both in terms of individuals and of social justice perspective. For instance, conspicuous, emulative or positional consumption might result in high indebtedness in the case of some households, leisure time reductions in other cases, or changes in preferences for redistribution, among individuals struggling to achieve certain standards promoted by the media or through peer groups. Institutions, markets and public policies can foster, mitigate or redirect these behaviours. Specifically, we are interested in discussing around questions such as: To which extent these phenomena are observerd in Latin America? If so: Do they foster or weaken achievements in terms of agency or capabilities?; Should institutions and public policies promote certain life styles or would that be an unacceptable form of paternalism?; Which policies and institutional designs need to be implemented in order to avoid the (potentially) deletereous effect of these behaviours? The conference aims at estimulating academic interchange on these topics.

The hosts of the 2016 HDCA Conference cordially welcome submissions of papers and thematic panel sessions.  In addition to proposals on the conference theme, papers on topics related to normative issues, human development, inequalities and poverty are welcome. The deadline for submissions is March 10, 2016.

More information about the conference will be available on the conference webpage: Questions can be addressed to the conference organizers at:

Paper Submission

a) Individual academic papers. An abstract of up to 500 words in English, Spanish or Portuguese must be submitted for consideration for presentation at the meeting. The cover page should include the title of the paper, institutional affiliation, including address, phone and email of each author and an abstract with 3-5 keywords.

b) Proposals for thematic panel sessions should be proposed as such, under a single theme. The sessions will be 90 minutes long, and so will accommodate 3 or 4 component papers. Each panel should have a coordinator who submits an abstract  for the panel  of up to 500 words in English, Spanish or Portuguese with 3-5 keywords. In addition, an abstract of similar characteristics should accompany each of the component papers of the proposed panel.

Please send your submission to

 Important Dates

Deadline for abstract and thematic panel proposals submission:  March 10, 2016

Notification of acceptance:  March 31, 2016

Deadline for full papers submission:  May 10, 2016


The official language of the conference is Spanish, but panel proposals, papers and presentations in English or Portuguese are welcome. There will be a simultaneous translation service for keynote speechs.

For more information about ALCADECA 2016 see

Scientific Committee

Izete Bagolin (Pontificia Universidad de Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil)
Flavio Comim (Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil y Universidad de Cambridge)
Javier Iguñiz (Pontificia Universidad del Perú, Perú)
Gustavo Pereira (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
Andrés Rius (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
Graciela Tonon (Universidad de Lomas de Zamora y Universidad de Palermo, Argentina)

Local organizing committee

Ana Fascioli (Universidad de la República)
Martín Leites (Universidad de la República)
Agustín Reyes (Universidad de la República)
Gonzalo Salas (Universidad de la República)
Andrea Vigorito (Universidad de la República)

Call for Submissions: International Workshop on Empowerment, capacity and capability (Berlin)

Call for Submissions International Workshop

Empowerment, capacity and capability:
Capabilities in between social sciences and pragmatist philosophy

Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin April 21-22 2016

How to participate:

Proposals should include an abstract of 500-1000 words, contact informations and affiliation. They should be sent to one of the organizers (below) by December 31st 2015. Notification of acceptance will be done by January 31st, 2015.

Daniel Cefaï (EHESS-WIKO):
Roberto Frega (CNRS):
Bénédicte Zimmerman (EHESS-WIKO):

The Wissenschaftskolleg, the CNRS and the EHESS jointly organize an international workshop devoted to the contribution of pragmatism to capability studies from both a philosophical and a social sciences perspective.

The concept of capability has taken on growing importance in the past decades. Initially conceptualized by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum (Sen & Nussbaum, 1993), it has been translated into public policies and measurements (i.e. Human Development Index of the UNO, micro-credit and empowerment policies of the World Bank...). Coined at an early stage with reference to issues of development, the concept has since spread all over the world, as a more general attempt to conceptualize freedom, inequalities and justice (Salais & Villeneuve, 2004; Leonardis et al., 2012; Subramanian et al., 2013; Otto & Ziegler, 2014).

These many ways to promote the concept of capability resulted in giving it its multi-faceted meaning and favouring its spread; they have, however, hampered conceptual clarity. Related to the concepts of ability, capacity, skill, competence, opportunities, choice and power to act, capability is often reduced to one of these notions to the detriment of the more complex nexus articulating all of them in a whole. In addition, the difficulty of its translation into other languages reinforces the feeling of confusion and lack of accuracy. It turns into capacité in French, losing the English distinction between capability and capacity that gives it its strength. In German it is encapsulated in Verwirklichungschancen, overemphasizing the opportunity dimension.

Taking the semantic complexity of the concept of capabilities and its criticisms as a starting point, the aim of this workshop is to explore how pragmatist philosophy, and its extensions in social sciences, can contribute to a better understanding of the dimension of personal and social experience at stake in the capability concept.

To what extent can the pragmatist theories of action, given their sensitivity to a socially situated understanding of values, freedom and capacities, help us elaborate further the relationship between capacity, capability and empowerment and enrich their conception (Zimmermann, 2006)?

The potential contribution of pragmatism can be sought at different levels.

First, we are interested in the way pragmatists themselves have developed and understood the concept of capability. John Dewey (1891) was probably one of the very first to employ it, and to distinguish it from that of capacity. He shed light on the working synergies between “personal capacities” and the “environing forces” (1921:16) and defined capabilities as resulting from the external supplementation of internal capacities.

Second, George Herbert Mead (1934) insisted, from the perspective of human ecology, on the basic capacity that humans have to give indications to their fellows, to take their selves as objects for themselves, and to act taking the role of a generalized Other. How would it be possible to connect the study of capabilities with the inquiry in the constitution of Self as outcome of social processes of association, cooperation and communication? Can these capabilities go through a process of institutionalization?

Third, without necessarily resorting to the language of capabilities, the pragmatists have insisted on the interrelations between action, reflexivity and context in ways that are not only fully consistent with the capability approach. The help developing a conception of freedom in situated action - a freedom which is not only formal, but finds its way in concrete settings and life stories. What does it mean for someone to carry on a project and come to terms with one's environment (Dewey, 1935, 1939)? What can pragmatism teach us about the dialectics of action, choice, habits and agency?

Fourth, pragmatists have stressed that our capabilities to act depend on the kind of “organized intelligence” (Dewey, 1927) we can rely on and the material resources and supports we have access to, as well as on the kind of interpersonal, cognitive and moral recognition we receive for what we are doing. Mary Parker Follett (1919, 1924) has explored the articulation between individual capabilities and collective empowerment, for instance in neighbourhood or workplace communities. Can we mobilize, as the feminists did, the notion of power-with in order to think this problem of capabilities?

More specifically, we seek contributions that will deal with one or more of the following lines of research:

  1. Capacity, capability and the constitution of the self,
  2. Capability and the role of the ecological environment, including institutions,
  3. Socialization and education as bridging processes between the self and her


  1. Experience as the very place of the constitution and actualization of capabilities and
  2. Dimensions of power and their enabling or disabling effects.

Doctoral workshop: Researching Urban Exclusion and Inequality: Critical Perspectives on Social Policy

Doctoral workshop on


Monday 25 January 2016
(Proposals due before 15 December, 2015)

Department of Social and Policy Sciences
University of Bath

 The proliferation of informal settlements, rising inequality and territorial concentration of poverty are problems shared by mega-cities throughout the developing world, but the Latin American city has been particularly marked by this evolution. What are the successes so far of social policy in reducing urban inequality and poverty? What best normative framework of analysis to inform poverty and inequality reducing social policy? Does a theoretical perspective centred on multi-dimensional wellbeing, affiliation and agency yield innovative policy insights?

This workshop is open to any PhD student working on *any* of the following topics:

-          Social policy
-          Urban inequality and poverty
-          Youth
-          Capability approach

The workshop is an opportunity to present some findings of your doctoral resesearch and receive constructive feedback from peers and academic mentors. Geographical coverage is not limited to Latin America as the workshop aims at bringing an international comparative perspective on the problems of urban poverty and inequality.

The workshop will start at 10.30 and finish at 18.00. Attendance is free. Participants are asked to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements. Participants are invited for dinner, and to attend the following day an academic research day in Bath on ‘Urban wellbeing, youth and social policy in Latin America’.

If you wish to participate, please send a 500 word summary of your proposed contribution to Séverine Deneulin at BEFORE 15th DECEMBER 2015.

 The workshop is organized under the British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme grant, entitled ‘Urban inequality and youth wellbeing in Latin America’s informal settlements’, , between the University of Bath and Catholic University of Argentina, in association with the University of Oxford and Catholic Universities of Chile and Sao Paulo.


Call for Papers: Conference on the effective implementation of disability rights in Africa

The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria invites papers for a conference on disability rights in Africa.

3 - 4 November 2015, Pretoria, South Africa

Deadline (Abstracts): 17 July 2015

Authors will be notified by 31 July 2015 whether their abstract has been accepted.

Deadline (Papers): 15 September 2015. Authors whose abstracts are accepted will be required to submit their full papers by 15 September 2015.

Limited funding for travel and accommodation is available only to support authors whose abstracts have been accepted and have also submitted written papers. Applicants seeking financial support should indicate in a separate letter, accompanying the abstract, the reason(s) for the application and the nature of support they are seeking.

Applicants will also be notified by 30 September 2015 whether their application for funding has been accepted.


International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC) 2015

There has been a considerable increase in public interest in social innovation over the last year, which calls for conceptual reflection by economists, sociologists, political scientists and philosophers. At two special ISIRC sessions on “the economic underpinning of social innovation”, papers on the conceptual foundations of social innovation and its place and implication for the political economy of regions, nation states and supra-national entity such as the EU will be presented. The papers draw on theories of power, of justice and human development, and of institutional change for a better understanding of social innovation.

More information:

UK Development Studies Association conference in Bath

UK Development Studies Association annual conference
Bath, September 7-8th 2015
Global Development as Relationship: Dependence, Interdependence or Divide?

Keynote Speakers: Professor James Ferguson and Professor, Stanford University and Branko Milanovic, City University of New York.
The Call for Papers closes on Monday 5th May.

The theme is the forms of relationship that are valued, enacted and denied through current processes of international development. Ebola, political violence, migration, trade and climate change all assert our global interdependence, while structures of governance still tend to assume the predominance nation state sovereignty.  Contemporary growth processes have generated prosperity for many, great wealth for some and exceptional inequality.Their neo-liberal thrust valorises independence and generates increasing populations whose labour appears either surplus or highly insecure, and so rely on forms of social dependence to secure a basic livelihood.  Alongside these non-inclusive growth processes new communication technologies have become an important means through which relationships are enacted, reconfiguring notions of nationality, community, neighbourhood, family and personal identity.

For further details please visit:

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